In this article I hope to give you a thorough and succinct brief on how to submit to directories, when to submit to directories and which directories deserve your submissions. I have been hanging out with several pieces of directory software (which i will talk about briefly) and a great directory submissions and linking expert, Dave Fuentes. I will be drawing on our work together to write an explanatory piece about directory submissions.
Directory submission is one of the most important things to do when you are link building. It is an assured way to get solid one way links back to your desired domain or sub domain.
Before we go into the details
This next item is a major issue. I discovered that several of my clients waited until the last moment to renew their URLs, and the URLs had been back ordered by domain name resellers. These resellers are currently selling us our domains, which thanks to my clients’ inaction are longer ours, for an extremely ridiculous price, which we have little choice but to pay. Now why have these URLs become so dear? It is because the web sites were great resources.
As you embark on your linking program, please remember to make sure your hold on your URL is extremely tight. Now I pay enough for domain names to cover several years in advance. This is important; fail in this area and you will find that after submitting your URL to 800-1000 directories (free and paid) you have no control over that URL anymore. Now we can go into the details.
The biggest directory project is the open directory project. If you didn’t know about it…well, now you do. Its also called ODP or the "Google directory." It is supposed to be hard to get approval but if you follow the basic steps you should never have a problem with the ODP (or any other directory for that matter). Other big directories include the Yahoo Directory; we will go into the hundreds of others later.
Most directories have human editors and frown severely on multiple submissions, however if you have a big site with multiple categories, you can place your subcategories as sub domains and submit in different sections of the directory. For example, if you have a web site that has one category on Windows programming (software) and another on networking (hardware), if you divide both into different sub domains, you can put one sub domain under "software, Windows programming" and the other under "hardware, networking." It will not be considered spam since the two URLs cover separate topics. Note however that for branding purposes it is always best to have one web site which covers one topic, and in case you run into an overly strict "volunteer" editor (most of them are overworked and not paid anyway), it is sometimes better to submit just one URL to a directory from your site.
Directories want to offer a service. If they are good at listing, they get traffic; if they are bad, they don’t. They need relevant listings. This is why some people find it hard to get listed; a lot of sites try to get listed on unpaid directories without being relevant. This will definitely make directory submission hard.
Your directory submission should be done when your website is fully functional and ready for viewing. Some advise that it should be done once your domain name is registered, but then there will be nothing for the humans to review. You must have finished building the basics of your site before you submit your URL for approval.
Before submitting a website to be listed, your site has to be complete. All the pages should have content and all the links should be live. Even if it is only a one page site, everything should work. Once the site actually has content on it, even if it is drab copy, it will almost always get listed.
Note that the content on the site should be "relevant" to the section you are listing under. Check and double check, and if you can’t find a category that explicitly describes you, go for the nearest descriptive terms.
Once your site actually exists (and not just the domain name) and the content is relevant to the category you picked, all that is left is for you to use the right forms for describing your site and the right titles and voila! YOU ARE IN.
How to write descriptions
It is best to keep descriptions brief, cold and detached — no superlatives, no "best Windows programming site in the world!" Try instead: "offers Windows programming information, tutorials, and resources for beginners to advanced." This is a pretty good description. You are not selling on the directory (well at least not in SEO).
The point is that you are generating one way back links. And the editor looking through your application may not feel inclined to list you if you stuff spammy keywords into your description. The absolute best thing to do is read the guidelines of the very strictest directories out there and model ALL your work after that.
Note that it is a good idea to have several different descriptions and titles (anchor text) for the various directories to which you submit. If you do not want to overwork your imagination you could write five different descriptions and anchor texts; this could help with the amount of key words on which you are competing.
This is all general advice on submitting to a large volume of directories quickly. If you are interested in submitting to just one (like www.dmoz.org) there are a few tutorials here on seochat. There is a list of other articles concerning directories here.
Linking is basic; you get as many people as possible to link to you, and you link to whoever you want to link to. You can never have enough one way links. The more directories that link to you, the better it is for you. Most SEO consultants submit to hundreds of directories, and there are free resources that can help you (in a semi automated fashion) submit to thousands of websites. Any software that guarantees full automation is probably lying, since most directories now use graphical images (captcha) to verify whether the entries are being made by humans.
Most submission software offer great lists (all free). I use www.submithelper.com however there is some very good software that gets great reviews over at the Seochat forums. It is called submiteaze and it ranks number one for "directory submission software." Here is the discussion thread. Submit helper ranks number two for the same keyword phrase. Both applications work great but submit helper is free. It is similar to Roboform in that it auto completes specific fields in forms.
Submit helper also has lists of niche directories and paid directories. If your budget covers it, submit to every single directory that will have you (including any niche directory in your specialty). Niche directories are especially good at bringing in targeted traffic. This is good because it ensures that only traffic which has been searching for your site via going through the directories will get there. Some good directories for sites that sell online medications include www.rxlist.com and www.drugs.com. These are the biggest directories for this niches; there are dozens of others.
You should always keep it in mind that you are submitting to directories in order to increase your back link count. Note that search engines consider links from directories to be very good, since the links have been vetted by the human editors on the directory. A great list for some of the other top directories can be fond here at Blue Pearl.
Note that you don’t have to use the software to help you submit links to hundreds of sites, but it is far more convenient than just searching for directories and adding your URL to them. However some of the directories listed on the software listings (especially Submithelper) are somewhat obscure, so here a list of top directories that should juice up your PR when you get them to link to you.
Yahoo Directory Express is found at http://add.yahoo.com/fast/add?+Business. They charge an exorbitant $299 a year, and there is no guarantee that you will rank highly on Yahoo’s SERPs anyway. I believe this directory should be done last (if you want to be listed on it at all). This is a paid directory, as are most top directories apart from DMOZ. Others are www.business.com, www.joeant.com, www.goguides.com (these are all paid directories); also check out www.sevenseek.com, www.zeal.com, and www.looksmart.com.
Paid versus free
When it comes to links, I will take volume over quality any day. Get all the free links you can, then start paying for paid directories from highest to lowest cost. You always have to look at it from a cost benefit basis, and a lot depends on the size of your budget. A few hundred directories charge less than $15 a year, while several others charge almost $300. However you look at it, it pays to "go with the free."
Submitting your URL to directories is the beginning of your linking program. It is the easiest way to start and an assured way of getting non-reciprocal one way links. After this you can start actively link trading (which is like dating). Hopefully you would have a backbone of several hundred backlinks and an appreciable PR before you start reciprocal linking.